Friday 13 January 2012


I don't know about you, but last year was a hard one for us.  Hugh's first year in business, on his own and my lack of enthusiasm of working weekends has left us pretty brasic.  This Christmas holiday, instead of going out and eating out, we have spent a large percentage of our time, going for walks (free) and eating at home (cheap).  This combination has always been a challenging one, especially as Hugh has another self-elected vocation, unfortunately unpaid, as a personal health and safety officer, which means that there is absolutely no way that we are going out and leaving the oven on. Ever!  Hence the recent glut of slow-cooker curries and stews. And as much as I love curries and stews, once in a while you really crave a proper roast. And so, I am very excited to say that I have finally come up with a solution.  I suppose it is more pot-roast but the results are really good. For some reason I just never thought you would get a really nice, rare bit of meat if you cook it slowly but of course when you think about it, there is no reason why you can't.  I know all these monocular gastronomy chefs have been experimenting with just this concept for years and when I went to The Fat Duck, many moons ago, I remember having a particularly amazing piece of duck which had been cooked for about 12 hours and yet still looked like it was almost raw.  I imagine it had been cooked sous-vide which is apparently de rigueur now a days, as any of you will know who watched Masterchef.  Call me old fashioned but I just can't get that excited about about cooking anything, vacuum packed in a waterbath.   

Anyway, back to my recipe.  I have experimented long and hard to perfect this recipe with the sole purpose of being able to go out for a hearty three hour walk and come home to a beautiful piece of rare roast beef, potatoes, vegetables and gravy all ready for you to eat 15 minutes after you get home.   When it comes to the cut of beef, buy what best you can afford. Top-sirloin is probably the best and then top-rump, top-side and finally Silverside.  I usually settle for somewhere in the middle.  3/4 of a kilo is about £6.50 and will feed a family of four nicely and still leave some left over for delicious roast beef sandwiches with lashing of horseradish.   Finally if you want to slow cook a piece of beef, invest in a leave in meat thermometer which should set you back about £5.00.

Rare Roast Beef in the Slow-cooker
You can use any vegetables you want. These are my favourites.  Strangly the vegetables will not cook at all much in the slow-cooker, even though they are in there for hours.  They need to be almost cooked before they go in.
Serves 4
750g piece of beef 
4 fat cloves of garlic
Small bunch of Thyme
Few bay leaves
12 New Potatoes, cut in half
2 Medium Parsnips, peeled and cut in four lengthways
2 Carrots, peeled and cut in four lengthways
2 heads fennel, cut into wedges
8 shallots, peeled whole if smallish
1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water

Bring all the vegetables to the boil in a large pan of salted water.  Boil gently for about 5-10 minutes until nearly completely cooked.  Drain well.  Season your meat well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Brown the beef in a large frying pan over a medium high heat in some olive oil.  If there is room add some of the potatoes, face side down until golden brown. Make sure the meat is golden brown on all sides.  As you take one thing out the frying pan, add some more vegetables.  Next add the parsnips, fennel, carrots or shallots and again sauté until they are a lovely brown colour.  It is worth taking time at this stage, as it is pretty much all the cooking you have to do.  The slow-cooker does the rest.  As each lot of vegetables are done put them straight into the slow-cooker. Add the thyme and finally pour over the water and the balsamic.  Add a little extra salt and black pepper and place the meat on top of everything.  Insert the thermometer into the middle of the piece of meat.  Set cooker on low for two and a half hours. The more cooked you like your meat the longer walk you can have. Add 15 minutes for roughly every 10ºF.

When you get back, put on a pan of water to cook your greens.  Remove the meat.  Check the temperature.  Rare beef should be 60ºC/140ºF, Medium rare is 66ºC/150ºF/ Medium 71ºC/160ºF.  If it is still under, chuck it in a hot oven for a bit.  If it is right wrap in tin foil and allow to rest on a plate. Remove all the vegetables (You can put them in the oven to keep hot if you like.) Tip all the gravy into a saucepan and reduce the sauce until it tastes delicious.  Add a knob of butter if necessary to mellow the flavour and any extra juices from the resting meat. Check seasoning. Meanwhile cook your greens and then you are ready to go.  Serve with lashings of horseradish sauce.


  1. Thanks for this - it's something I've been meaning to try for a while now. I love the slow cooker but I've never tried this kind of roasting. Actually I don't like leaving the oven on when I go out walking but that's because I got lost and/or distracted too easily and come home to overcooked food.

  2. Well done you! We don't like our beef rare and I don't have a slow cooker anymore (had one in the '80s) but I admire your skill in achieving this!


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